‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

If Captain America: The First Avenger was a simple, wholesome 40’s war movie with wholesome Americans punching Nazis fun, The Winter Soldier is a modern thriller, complete with all the car chases, trust issues, and characters seemingly in peril whipping out a well concealed gun at the last second. All of these genres staples are in full effect here and mostly, very well done: the grey morality is particularly well handled, with Cap having to understand that’s how the world is nowadays. What’s not so well done is the bad guys overall plot: it just seems too ‘big’, not just for a thriller but in that it seems to what to top Avengers when these solo films should be smaller and more personal in my opinion (Thor and Iron Man can perhaps get away easier with a big spectacle finale with one being an all powerful God and the other being well… Iron Man). The titular Winter Soldier doesn’t get that much to do at all; that whole subplot is a bit predictable, underdeveloped and left open when you’d think it should be wrapped up, given the subtitle. There are enough plot threads running in the MCU at is it, with Guardians, Thor 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Cap 2 is less a standalone film and more a tease for the characters third solo entry. Which leads back to a positive point. Yes, its billed as a Captain America film but there is a lot of screentime dedicated to Black Window, instantly likeable newbie The Falcon, and Nick Fury. This is a good thing, as Chris Evans’ hero works best bouncing off other characters. I just wish a lot more of that character interaction was with the other titular character, as this really could’ve heightened to emotion to same levels as action and intrigue to make a really strong film, compared to a pretty good one.

 

 

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Thor: The Dark World review

It’s been over a month (!) since I last posted something. There’s a few reasons for that. I turned 22 at the end of October and to try and desperately cling onto my youth I’ve been mostly playing old PSone era Looney Tunes games (Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time and Sheep, Dog n’ Wolf. Check them out if you’re interested, the latter is very good. But so difficult) and more suited to video reviews if I ever get that started (if you’re reading this Joel…). The only TV show I’ve been watching is Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and I think I wanna wait til the end of the season before opening that proverbial pandora’s box. I’ve also been busy sorting out a house viewing and then moving into said house within a week so blogging has, sadly, fallen by the wayside a bit.

But if anyone’s going to ignite that spark and bring out the keyboard warrior in me its a new entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe: one of my favourite things to happen to film in the last five years. Yes, it’s been that long since the first Iron Man promised us a wider universe with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury cameo. Now ‘Phase 2’ carries on, and  its time to set things in motion, with Thor: the Dark World.

The not so official posted used in a Chinese theatre. Will probably be used as the gay porn parody poster no doubt…

I’m not going to do a sweeping, spoiler-free review because that’s boring and everyone else has done one. I’m going to write a bit more in depth about specifics so you’ll need to have seen the film (there’s no excuse not to by now) to get what I’m on about. Maybe.

OK, so basically: I bloody LOVED this film. It’s been a few days since I’ve seen it so I’ve had to time process where it sits in my ranking of the MCU films and its up there near the top. The thing that really sticks out, which many reviewers have picked up on as its strongest point, is the humour. Chris O’Dowd’s cameo (I personally like to think he’s actually Roy from The I.T. Crowd, in a meta gag), more Darcy – with an intern!, Thor and Jane picking up the sarcasm, everyone’s interactions with Loki, NAKED ERIK SELVI- nevermind actually. I also loved the little things like Thor putting his hammer on a coat hook, the absurdity of having to get on public transport (British public transport at that!) in the midst of the final battle and Mjnolnir (or ‘meow meow’ as Darcy still calls it) trying to fly back to Thor and constantly changing direction as he moves through dimensions. Even if the big baddie had more development (one of the film’s weaknesses, but apparently there’s tons of character for him in the deleted scenes), his seriousness as a villain was totally undermined by seeing him slide down the Gherkin, and that’s fine – its possibly my favourite moment. The MCU films (Incredible Hulk and the first Captain America aside) have all been consistently hilarious: Joss’ script for Avengers made it the funniest film of 2012 and Iron Man 3 and now Thor: The Dark World have equalled it, if not raised the bar.

Of course, Thor is also a serious superhero film too. Although saying that, the MCU films have blended the superhero genre with others to create something unique; Captain America: First Avenger was  an old-school 40’s war film, the first Thor wearethed the drapes of Shakespearian drama and Iron Man 3 was more a buddy cop movie. The Dark World delves into full-on fantasy, and does so fantastic under the direction of Game of Thrones alumni Alan Taylor. The battles are brutal, Asgard looks beautiful but also more realistic, whilst the viking funeral with the fire arrows could’ve been a moment out of Lord of the Rings. That scene in particular was  so visually stunning, it made me drop my jaw to the floor just after I had picked it up from seeing Frigga bite the bucket. It was beautiful. Having said all that, the film has a lot of science fiction elements to add to its unique mix (although science and magic are the same thing in this universe, according to Thor) with a med-bay hologram, portals allowing for some fun dimension hopping and gravity defying that make for an awesome final battle and henchemen that look like something out of Doctor Who – a nice touch seeing as Christopher Ecclestone is Malekith. All these elements are brought to life by fantastic visual and sound design, which nail (get it, coz Thor has a hammer…) all the different pieces together perfectly. As a media graduate, seeing everything come together made me go ‘yes, this is why I’d love to be involved in making movies’.

The Cyberman like faces/masks, the laser guns, the weird shaped spaceships – think the Dark Elves were literally beamed in from BBC Wales art department, and will probably be involved a lot of dubious crossover fan fiction…

Everyone getting to work on any of these Marvel movies is one of the luckiest people I the world. Not only are all these genre spanning films existing in and adding to a shared universe – like that mid credits scene confirming they are following the Infinity Gauntlet storyline (which I totally saw coming) and Loki doing… something with Odin and taking over the throne of Asgard in disguise (which I totally DID NOT see coming) – but they are the most FUN series of films coming out in a long, long time. These films are my boyhood fantasies coming to life on screen, and handled incredibly well. The actors are fantastic, the technical elements like sound and visuals aren’t just serviceable but full of flair and imagination and things like the Captain America illusion cameo is Marvel and Disney’s way of saying ‘we know what you want, and we are happy to give it to you’. The guys making these films are having a much fun playing with their metaphorical toy boxes making these as we are watching them, and I can’t wait for what comes next.

As long as it’s not more naked Erik Selvig.